cover image A Study in Honor

A Study in Honor

Claire O’Dell. Harper Voyager, $15.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-269930-5

This riveting mystery (fantasist Beth Bernobich’s first work under the O’Dell pseudonym), set in near-future Washington D.C., spotlights delightfully fresh adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous characters. After Dr. Janet Watson loses her arm in an attack by the New Confederacy, she is discharged from the Army and returns home. She meets the fascinating, if infuriating, Sara Holmes, and they become roommates in Georgetown, Va., where, as two black women, they are not entirely welcome. Watson observes troubling patterns in her new job at the VA, and these, along with prompts from Holmes’s top secret connections, send the women on a high-stakes search for answers. As the mystery unfolds, it departs from direct Doyle parallels and takes on an entertaining life of its own. Attention to detail about futuristic elements, such as Watson’s mixed feelings about her temperamental mechanical arm, helps construct a believable setting. Readers who pick this up for the novelty of Watson and Holmes as black women will be impressed by how well O’Dell realizes them as full, rich characters. This is a real treat for fans of Conan Doyle and SF mysteries. (July)